Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council has rejected a rule change that would have allowed Youth Day hunters to shoot does in Wildlife Management Districts that have no any-deer permits.
By a vote of 7 to 2, the Council turned down what has become a perennial proposal, popping up every spring only to die by early summer. Two Council members supported the proposal: Steve Philbrick of Oquossoc and Wade Kelley of Allagash.
The seven Council members who killed the proposal were: Lila Ware of Skowhegan, Cathy DeMerchant of Vassalboro, Lance Wheaton of Forrest City, Jeff Lewis of Ellsworth, Dick Thurston of Scarborough, Bos Savage of Limington, and Mike Witte of New Harbor.
John Boland, who oversees both the Fisheries and the Wildlife Divisions, told me in May that “some” people had asked the Commissioner to give this proposal another chance, feeling they didn’t get fair consideration in the past.
John said, “Nothing has changed since last year,” and the department was not supporting the proposal. They only advertised it to satisfy those who feel they didn’t get a fair shake last year, he said.
This has been a constant and controversial issue for the last three years. Leo Kieffer of Caribou quit his position on the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council in 2010 when he became irate that DIF&W abandoned it’s support for a proposal to allow Youth Day hunters to shoot does in WMD’s without any-deer permits.
In May, Keiffer wrote me that limiting youth to bucks only “has accomplished nothing except to totally alienate our Northern Maine youth, their parents, landowner’s who have a family, and to limit access. If these are the goals of anyone, then they can consider themselves a rousing success,” charged the former State Senator, obviously still steamed up over the issue.
The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine took a strong stance against the proposal this year. “We’ve taken a thoughtful, research-based approach,” SAM’s Executive Director Dave Trahan told me, “an approach that is best for the resource.”
“Conservation sometimes means sacrificing opportunity to sustain the resource,” said Trahan. “We do appreciate those who want young hunters to have the opportunity to harvest a deer, but we also want future generations of hunters to have that opportunity.”
There’s an interesting discussion on this issue on DIF&W’s website in the May meeting minutes of the Advisory Council. Something tells me we’ll hear about this again next year.